Painting of Trees in Moonlight
by Theodora Goss
I am painting the trees.
For whom am I painting the trees?
The trees say, this is for us.
It is our portrait. The moon says,
you are painting the trees in my light.
Really, this is a portrait of how I
perceive the trees. I outline them in silver.
The river says, you are painting
the trees reflected in my water.
It is really me you are painting, isn’t it?
The dark mirror of my surface.
Yes, yes, I say, raising my brush
and adding white strokes
where moonlight touches the water.
This is a portrait of the trees
and the river, and the moon, all of whom
may claim it.
But really it’s a portrait
of me without you, and I will send it
special delivery to where you are,
which is too far away. Unwrap it and see
the reflection of your absence.
(The image is A Summer Night, No. 3 by Willard Leroy Metcalf.)